I went more-or-less all in on Danny Salazar this year. I loved his strikeout ability and while I was worried about his home runs I was not worried enough to avoid him in any drafts. In my redraft and keeper leagues I drafted him without hesitation and expected him to be one of my top performers, which I similarly did with Michael Wacha. Unfortunately, Salazar struggled mightily and earned himself a demotion after just 10 starts.
After making another 10 starts, this time in triple-A, Salazar is on his way back to the majors. During his stint in the minors Salazar has continued to be inconsistent, specifically with his command, but he has still been striking out batters at a feverous pace and has seen his results improve over the past few weeks. Likely the main reason the Indians are confident in calling Salazar back up is due to his 2.32 ERA over his past five starts spanning 31 innings. In those 31 innings he has compiled 39 strikeouts but has also issued 17 walks.
The latter part is my concern. Last year Salazar posted a solid 7.1% walk rate and had similar marks throughout the minors, give or take a few percentage points. This year in triple-A he’s at 11.5%, so while I am excited about the opportunity of getting a very high upside pitcher back for a second half run, I am equally concerned that he will blow up in my face for the second time this season. I am preceding with a bit of caution this time out, but I think it is worthwhile to pick him up off the waiver wire if he is available and send some small offers over for him if you have the pitching depth to take some risks.
According to Scott Leo who was in attendance for Salazar’s last triple-A outing, he hit 98 mph a few times, which is a huge positive. His velocity dropped from about 96 to just under 94 so seeing him be able to ramp up to 98 is certainly a big plus when considering adding or trading for Salazar before he makes his return.
In long term leagues I still have a lot of confidence in Salazar. Even if he ends up being more wild than we expected, his strikeout stuff should still allow him to be a playable fantasy asset for years to come. Prospects have hiccups and I am hoping this is what we are looking at with Salazar. I would be much more confident if these command issues had not popped up, but with his velocity high, his results over the past month being solid, and his velocity back up to where it was last year, I am officially back on the hook for Salazar.